Five Tips for a F’ing Great Logo

Five Tips for a F’ing Great Logo

by David Hertog & Fangjin Yang · July 23, 2014

Everyone wants a great logo, but it’s notoriously difficult work—prone to miscommunications, heated debates and countless revisions. Still, after three years we couldn’t put it off any longer. Druid needed a visual identity, so we partnered with the talented folks at Focus Lab for help.

Our old logo (left) was...lacking. Much better now, right?

Despite our fears, we cranked this out with Focus in a speedy three week sprint. Not only was the process drama-free, it was actually fun. The goal of this post is to give you some insight into how we did it and to share a few things that helped us support them in doing great work.

1. We started on the same page

Before the kickoff, Focus asked us to fill out this questionnaire about our brand, our mission, and what we’re looking for in a logo. This exercise forced the Druid team into alignment about a variety of things, including our preferred style. We figured this out by asking each team member to pick a few logos they like and talk about why. Though we didn’t agree on everything, we did find common ground: logos that were simple, modern, and polished. Focus Lab took this and created a mood board (below), which served as a directional guide for the project’s aesthetic.

2. We picked a central theme and stuck with it

Logos (like companies) fail when they try to do too many things at once. The best logos succinctly convey one theme. Apple: Knowledge, Google: Playfulness, Ferrari: Power. Druid is fast, scalable, built for analytics, and open source. All of these themes are important, but we agreed that speed was the most important, so we asked Focus to prioritize it in their designs. From there, they got to work brainstorming:

3. We sought internal consensus at major milestones

At the end of week one, Focus brought us two very different concepts. We all preferred the one below, but before saying so we polled a few folks internally. Doing this at key milestones was critical because it helped to give everyone a sense of ownership in the project and it ensured we weren’t walking down the wrong road. What could be worse than going through this whole thing only to learn that a major stakeholder hates what you’ve come up with?

4. We structured our feedback around objectives, not solutions

Thankfully, everyone liked the above concept. It evoked a speeding bullet displacing air, and as an added bonus, it resembled a capital “D” for Druid. That said, it didn’t feel fast enough, and we were concerned that the graphic mark was too wide to fit inside a square avatar, such as a Twitter profile photo. Our first instinct was to start suggesting design tweaks: “What if you reduce the thickness of the lines?,” “Would it look better if you removed a line?,” “What about tilting it at an angle?” Giving designers this kind of feedback is tempting but counterproductive, so we focused on articulating the problems, and let them handle the solutions.

Over three weeks of refining these ideas (and experimenting with a few out of the box ones), we arrived at the final, Round 3 version pictured below. There’s no doubt that it’s the fastest, and best-looking of the bunch.

5. We treated our designers as an extension of our team

There are lots of good designers out there, but great ones are rare. The difference between the two isn’t just design talent (though that’s important), it's in knowing how to guide a client through the process. That said, the world’s best guide can’t help you find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We learned that coming to the table prepared, and then collaborating with Focus as if they were members of our team made the difference between success and meh.